So what happens now?

Filed in National by on January 1, 2013

The House will vote to amend the bill. It will get no Democratic votes, and I wonder if it gets 218 votes at all. If the amendment does not pass, I doubt the bill itself will pass. Eric Cantor, the #2 Republican in the House, and the likely next Speaker (more on that in a moment), has said he opposes the bill.

So let’s assume that the House amends the bill and passes it. The Senate is gone. It’s business is done for the year. The 112th Congress, Senate edition is over. So that’s it. The bill dies. We are off and over the cliff.

Words cannot express how shocking and yet completely predictable this is. Remember, the House GOP, through Boehner, cut off negotiations with the President two weeks ago, and they planned to pass a “Plan B” bill to raise taxes on only those making over a million dollars. Speaker Boehner led this effort, but a majority of caucus refused to vote for it. Pursuant to a GOP rule called the Hastert Rule, which holds that no legislation shall receive a vote on the floor of the House unless a majority of the GOP caucus supports it, Boehner was forced to pull the bill. In essence, there was a tea party coup against Boehner at that moment, led by his own #2, Eric Cantor.

Humiliated and weakened, with his career over, Speaker Boehner then tried to pass the buck to the Senate, saying the House will not vote on another Fiscal Cliff package unless and until the Senate reaches an agreement, passes it, and sends it to the House. Nevermind that this is unconstitutional, since all revenue bills must originate in the House first, the Senate inexplicably complied, and reached a last minute agreement negotiated by Vice President Biden and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and they passed it by an overwhelming bipartisan margin, 89-6. Yes, Boehner demanded that his Senate Republican colleagues go out on a limb and vote for a deal, and surprisingly they did.

So the Senate bill is sent to the House, with Boehner lobbying his caucus in favor of passing it, and his caucus, once again under the true leadership of Eric Cantor, revolted again, refusing to vote for it unless it is amended to suit their desires.

To call the House GOP petulant temper tantrum throwing children is to insult petulant temper tantrum throwing children.

So the deal is dead. Lord knows what happens now. 1 trillion in sequester cuts (half to defense and half to non-SS/Medicare/VA domestic spending) are not in effect. The Clinton tax rates on income, dividends and capital gains are in affect. All 2009 stimulus measures like college tuition tax credits, unemployment insurance and the AMT and Medicare doc fix are rescinded. The Farm Bill extension is dead, which means dairy prices triple. Speaker Boehner is likely to be defeated by Eric Cantor for the Speakership on Thursday.

Happy New Year.

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  1. Cassandra M says:

    So maybe I spoke too soon. Maybe this is another bite at the Grand Bargain apple.

  2. bamboozer says:

    No surprises what so ever, it’s Tea Party Tantrum Time and all shall feel their righteous wrath, such as it is. I agree, Boehner is a dead issue and his likely replacement is a radical Tea Party type ready to tear the country apart in search of a far right impossible dream. Make no mistake, Eric Cantor is the modern day equivalent of the people who got the civil war up and running, nauseating accent and all. it’s going to be fun, and we may just see Obama fight back. Hey! It could happen!

  3. Delaware Dem says:

    More scenarios from Steve Benen:

    Scenario #1: House Republicans are just blowing off some steam this afternoon, but they’ll eventually realize they have limited options, bite the bullet, and pass the deal with some Democratic votes.

    Scenario #2: The vast majority of House Republicans will balk, but the chamber won’t want to be blamed for destroying everything, so a sliver of the caucus will join Democrats and grudgingly pass the package. This will raise questions anew about John Boehner’s career, and the prospect of Cantor running for the Speaker’s gavel soon after.

    Scenario #3: House Republicans will amend the Senate deal, make it more Tea Party-friendly, and demand that the Senate approve their new version. This will necessarily force the entire process to collapse.

    Scenario #4: House Republicans will pass two bills, the Senate’s bipartisan agreement as-is, and a separate bill filled with spending cuts. The Senate would ignore the second bill, but it might make the House GOP feel better about itself.

    Scenario #5: House Republicans will kill the Senate bill, there will be an enormous political freak out, and there will be hell to pay at the start of the new Congress.

  4. Delaware Dem says:

    For me, the only possible scenarios are 2 and 5.

  5. puck says:

    Full expiration was the only way we were ever going to get comprehensive repeal of the Bush tax cuts on the rich. Those tax cuts are the structural root of our twelve-year slump of low wages and jobless recovery and repealing them always should have been the first priority.

    Now we still have the equally daunting task of restoring the middle class tax cuts and other middle-class issues in the cliff, and selectively restoring the sequestered spending. But those are winnable fights, and I am much more heartened for those fights knowing the rich are once again paying their fair share. Even if they still owe us for the twelve lost years.

  6. Delaware Dem says:

    It depends on what your definition of winning is. If winning = passing legislation in this crazy GOP House, then I think you will spend 2013 very disappointed.

    In other news:

    Biden. Joe Biden.

  7. puck says:

    ” If winning = passing legislation in this crazy GOP House, then I think you will spend 2013 very disappointed.”

    We weren’t going to pass legislation anyway unless it was full-on wingnut. So our only hope to get anything done is to take expiration and start planning for the post-cliff battles. We may not win it all back immediately, but getting this much tax increase on the rich FOR FREE was a once-in-a-century opportunity that would be malpractice to pass up AGAIN.

  8. Delaware Dem says:

    Well, on CNN just now, it sounds like they are bringing the Amendment to the floor for a vote tonight, which means of course that the Amended Bill has the votes of Republicans to pass, which means, the Senate bill is dead and there is no deal.

  9. cassandra m says:


    Darryl Issa thinks the Senate GOP who voted for the compromise were drunk:

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is joining a growing number of Republicans trying to add more spending cuts to the last-minute fiscal cliff deal and send it back to the Senate, joked that Senators may have been drunk when they passed the measure in the early hours of Jan 1.

  10. Delaware Dem says:

    LOL, and now the GOP will allow a vote on the Senate bill. So in essence, today was just a temper tantrum by Republican babies.

  11. Jason330 says:

    So the President “won”. Great anything that makes the teabagz sad must be at least a little good. I just hope that this doesn’t cause Biden to set his sights on the Oval Office.

  12. puck says:

    So unearned income will now be taxed at 20% instead of 15%, below the Clinton rates. Wealthy investors laugh and light another cigar with a $100 bill. With certainty restored they can now get back to their corporate raiding. It turns out all that criticism of Bain business practices was just empty campaign rhetoric.

  13. It was not unconstitutional because the House passed their bill in August. The Senate should have passed its version then it should have gone to conference. The Senate Democrats refused to do anything before the election. Then they were too incompetent to do anything afterward. Biden had to rescue Reid. We only have one functioning body, the Republican led House.

  14. I found the House roll call very interesting as it perhaps reveals how Obama can work his will over the body:

    Every R House member from New Jersey and Pennsylvania voted for the bill, save one. 17 yes votes from R’s, who are now pissed off at their own leadership for refusing to let a bill on Sandy aid come to a vote. 7 more yes votes from New York state. That’s 24. Plus, something like eight new D’s entering the House tomorrow.

    We don’t have a slam-dunk here by any means, but I don’t think that the Tea Party or Grover Norquist will have veto power from now on.

  15. puck says:

    I don’t think that the Tea Party or Grover Norquist will have veto power from now on.

    El Som, the deal didn’t have any tax increases – it was all tax cuts (it was passed after the cliff, remember?) I think Grover Norquist did very well. I know wealthy investors did.

    Although you are probably right about Norquist having less power in the future.

  16. Puck, I think that’s fig leaf stuff that may appeal to OUR logic, but will fall on deaf ears for the billionaires who will be paying a LOT more in taxes this year. Oh, and who were the moneybags behind the astroturf organizations propping up this phony grassroots movement.

    I know you’re disappointed in the deal, and I know that I tend to be optimistic on this type of stuff, but I think Obama’s played his hand pretty well, and he’s gonna have a stronger hand in 2013. I just posted a piece on it, and I admit I’m pretty intrigued about this new congress.

  17. puck says:

    I agree the deal is an amazing coup for progressives, until balanced against what we gave up unnecessarily. The additional spending concessions are a win for traditional liberals but not progressives.